Aaron A Sandel

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Now more than ever animal studies have the potential to test hypotheses regarding how cognition evolves. Comparative psychologists have developed new techniques to probe the cognitive mechanisms underlying animal behavior, and they have become increasingly skillful at adapting methodologies to test multiple species. Meanwhile, evolutionary biologists have(More)
The social intelligence hypothesis suggests that living in large social networks was the primary selective pressure for the evolution of complex cognition in primates. This hypothesis is supported by comparative studies demonstrating a positive relationship between social group size and relative brain size across primates. However, the relationship between(More)
Cognition presents evolutionary research with one of its greatest challenges. Cognitive evolution has been explained at the proximate level by shifts in absolute and relative brain volume and at the ultimate level by differences in social and dietary complexity. However, no study has integrated the experimental and phylogenetic approach at the scale(More)
Phylogenetic comparative methods have become standard for investigating evolutionary hypotheses, including in studies of human evolution. While these methods account for the non-independence of trait data due to phylogeny, they often fail to consider intraspecific variation, which may lead to biased or erroneous results. We assessed the degree to which(More)
Dominance hierarchies are a prominent feature of the lives of many primate species. These hierarchies have important fitness consequences, as high rank is often positively correlated with reproduction. Although adult male chimpanzees strive for status to gain fitness benefits, the development of dominance relationships is not well understood. While two(More)
Humans are unusual among mammals in appearing hairless. Several hypotheses propose explanations for this phenotype, but few data are available to test these hypotheses. To elucidate the evolutionary history of human "hairlessness," a comparative approach is needed. One previous study on primate hair density concluded that great apes have systematically less(More)
We tested five lemur species—ring-tailed lemurs, ruffed lemurs, mongoose lemurs, black lemurs, and Coquerel’s sifakas—(N = 52) in an experiment that evaluated skills for inhibitory control in a social context. First, two human experimenters presented identical food rewards; the “generous” experimenter allowed the subject to eat from her hand, whereas the(More)
Recent decades have seen rapid development of new analytical methods to investigate patterns of interspecific variation. Yet these cutting-edge statistical analyses often rely on data of questionable origin, varying accuracy, and weak comparability, which seem to have reduced the reproducibility of studies. It is time to improve the transparency of(More)
The comparative method is frequently employed to study primate behavior and evolution. The method is used to infer adaptations, and considerable improvements have been made with respect to its implementation. Despite these advances, scant attention has been given to the nature of the data that are used in comparative analyses. This creates a potential(More)
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